MP takes a stand for autistic people

Fleetwood MP Cat Smith
Fleetwood MP Cat Smith

Fleetwood MP Cat Smith has spoken out about the ‘unacceptable’ waiting times for people being diagnosed with autism.

In a parliamentary speech, Miss Smith voiced the concerns of Fylde coast residents whose children are awaiting an autism diagnosis, as well as those who have been diagnosed later in life.

Every autistic person is unique and different

She said: “Janeen Shears from Preesall had to wait almost five years for her son’s diagnosis.

“She said: ‘I was told my son was very complex and while professionals recognised many traits he didn’t fit neatly into one diagnosis box’.

“That is because every autistic person is unique and different.

“Another constituent, Saffron Warde-Jones, said this to me: ‘I have autism and was only diagnosed aged 44 after a lifetime of struggling’.

“Diagnosis opens up a support network, so will the Minister ensure that NHS England’s new autism care pathway includes and reduces diagnosis waiting times?”

She added that more support was needed for autistic adults as they branch out into the working world.

She said: “It was clear early on that one of the big issues facing the group was access to employment, which was reflected in the fact that only 15 per cent of adults on the spectrum are in full-time paid work.

“We know autistic people feel that current employment support services do not meet their needs, but the current system does not record their participation in or their outcomes from the work programme. I want to see more robust data on autistic people to understand how provision is working for them.

“The Government can do a lot more.

“Around 800,000 people in this country are affected by dementia, and the Government have shown great bravery in trying to change public attitudes by spending more than £2 million on awareness campaigns.

“The same work needs to be done for people on the autistic spectrum.”